Retail Expert Deborah Defusco Compares the Consumer Spending Power of Residents of Westchester County, NY, versus New York City, NY

What do our retail habits say about us as people?



They say that the clothes don’t make the man, but do the retail outlets make the county or City? By looking at what kinds of stores are successful in each area, you can see how we differ as shoppers.

We asked an expert to check out the landscape and tell us how Westchester and New York City look through the eyes of retailers. Deborah Defusco has worked for such outlets as B. Altman & Company, Bloomingdale’s, The Limited, and Destination Maternity (where she was president), before starting Retail Gal Consulting, LLC, her own firm.

First, she says the obvious: “New York City has such a diversity of income and such a density of population. It is not only one of the biggest cities in the United States, it’s also one of the wealthiest.” She adds that retail sales in NYC total around $56 billion per year, while in Westchester it’s $11 billion. If a retailer is only going to open one store, she says, “they’re going to go to New York City.”

That doesn’t mean that our county doesn’t have retailers salivating. On the contrary. We are good at spending money—better than our southern neighbors. Defusco notes that the $11 billion we spend is shelled out by a mere one million of us, making our per-capita spending almost twice that of a NYC shopper. Our pockets are also deeper than theirs. Our mean income is $128,000 per year; theirs? $78,100.

And we’re homeowners (58 percent of us vs. 30 percent of them) with yards and with families, or at least wedding bands (50 percent of county residents are married vs. 30 percent in the City). Therefore, “things that relate to the home and the yard, or places where you can shop for the whole family all at one time, are going to sell much better in Westchester,” Defusco says. And we have wheels. We can shop anywhere and load our trunks up with lots of goods. In the City, shoppers have to schlep. “In New York City,” Defusco says, “convenience is really important. That’s why you see a Starbucks and Duane Reade on every corner.” Frankly, we’d rather shop online and get packages delivered to our doorstep, where we don’t have to worry about our neighbors swiping them.